Saturday, May 11, 2019

Nobody told me nuthin'

When a person decides to run for office, there are certain things they must do. And certain things they must know.

A valuable source of information is the South Carolina Elections Commission.

Behind the "Candidates" tab on the homepage is a page titled "Campaign Finance & Ethics".

On that page, clear as a bright sun, it reads

"Candidates are required by law to file various campaign finance reports by specific deadlines.
"All candidates must file a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form with the State Ethics Commission.  This must be done electronically on the State Ethics Commission website.  Candidates may also be required to make Campaign Disclosure reports.  Visit the State Ethics Commission website for more information."
So this is my question. If a person with an eighth-grade education or higher read that, wouldn't he or she think that maybe, just maybe, it might be a good idea to find out what those reports were and when those deadlines were?

How could a person possibly later say, "Nobody told me I needed to do something." It was the candidate's personal responsibility to find out. You can't put the blame off on someone else.

If a candidate can't or won't take that personal responsibility, can that candidate be trusted to fulfill important fiduciary duties as a member of a board of trustees, responsible for multi-millions of dollars of assets, thousands of students and hundreds of employees?

Reality Check - McKie misses deadline

Do you read The Independent Voice of Blythewood & Fairfield County? Do you follow the goings-on of Richland 2 on The Voice?

On May 9, The Voice reporter Michael Smith filed his story about the latest deadline that Amelia McKie missed. Hit the link above, then click on News, then at the bottom of the webpage click on Next. You're looking for the story titled McKie fails to file ethics form... again. Or just click here.

Earlier this year Amelia McKie assured fellow School Board members and the public that "It’s a problem that certainly will not happen again.” By the "It" she meant failing to file required reports at the South Carolina Ethics Commission.

Now, if she makes a promise (gives her word) that it won't happen again and less than three months later it does happen again, how much faith can be placed in anything else she says?

She got in hot water this time over her Campaign Disclosure Report for January 1-March 31, 2019 that was due by April 10, 2019. When did she file it? May 8, 2019! A month late.

Wouldn't you think that one of her buddies on the board would have been saying, "Amelia, you know you need to file the Campaign Disclosure Report, right?" and "Amelia, when you are going to file that report?" and "Amelia, did you file the report?"  Or did all of her buddies clam up and just sit on their hands, waiting for Amelia to self-destruct?

McKie owes $51,850 to the South Carolina Ethics Commission. That amount is no longer negotiable. The appeals period has closed. That's what she owes. The S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) may be likely to commence collection actiony soon, and it probably won't be so polite as the Ethics Commission has been. The SCDOR is likely to send a letter or two and then file a collection action in court. And then pursue a judgment.

Has Amelia got $51,850 to settle up? It's my understanding that campaign funds cannot be used to pay fines and penalties.

How many people would grab the arms of their chair, fasten their seatbelts, and hang on? What should she do?

"Resign from the Board?" Actually, that's not an option for McKie, because she is not even legally a member of the Board. (Nor is Teresa Holmes.)

How can you resign from something of which you are not even a legal member?

And why don't the five legal members of the School Board insist that McKie and Holmes not take seats at the front of the room during Board meetings? Why doesn't the Superintendent explain to her that she is not a legal member of the Board and cannot participate as such? She should not be attending Executive Sessions, calling meetings to order, recognizing others to speak, voting, or taking any other action as a Board member, because she is not a School Board member.

Are her problems about to get a lot worse?

And the other School Board members should be very careful not to be complicit in anything that smells of being illegal. Mrs. Agostini was wise enough to consult her private attorney. If the other Board members consult with their own private attorneys, they will learn about their own precarious positions.

Here is the question each Board member should ask his or her own attorney? "If I fail to challenge the presence of someone who has asserted an illegal claim to the office of Trustee on the Richland 2 School Board, do I have personal or civil (or even, possibly, criminal) liability?"

Teresa Holmes doesn't need to ask her attorney that question. She too is not a legal member of the Board. for the same reason McKie isn't.